Jalib remembered as one who ‘documented’ darkest period of Pakistan’s history

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Zubair Qureshi

Well-known poet and DG of the National Language Promotion Department (NLPD) Iftikhar Arif on Friday remembered Shaer-e-Awam (Poet of the People) Habib Jalib as one who portrayed the darkest period of Pakistan’s political history in his evergreen poetry. Arif was delivering a lecture at a ceremony to remember Habib Jalib on his 25th death anniversary (died: March 13, 1993). Daughter of the late poet, Tahira Jalib also attended the event. She had travelled all the way from Lahore to share memories of her ‘role model,’ a symbol of resistance and a great human being. The lecture was also attended by poets Aslam Sagar, Dr Anwar Zahidi, Hameed Qaiser, Adeel Ijaz, writer Mohammad Ali women rights’ activist Tahira Abdullah and senior officials of the Lok Virsa.
Iftikhar Arif called himself a lucky man to meet and interact with great poet Jalib and also to organize a book launch of Jalib in London and host him there. He said Jalib was perhaps the lone voice who maintained dignity and respect of the pen by refusing to be associated with the court of the rulers of the day. Among us all, Jalib is the lone shining star of resistance, said Arif.
Habib Jalib deviated from the run-of-the-mill poetry although he started as a poet in tradition of great classics like Hasrat Mohani, Mir and others but his deviation and his poems on public issues won him instant popularity among the masses, said Iftikhar Arif. After Nazir Akbar Abadi, perhaps Habib Jalib was the only poet who remained a living organic part of public conscience and his poems became idiom of the day in 1960s and 70s.
Iftikhar Arif also narrated a number of anecdotes, instances that gave the audience glimpses into great poet’s life, his excessive drinking, his ‘darveshi’ and indifference towards money or career as poet.
Habib Jalib is not celebrated today as he should be, regretted Iftikhar Arif. Although we celebrate Faiz, we should also celebrate Jalib as most of his poems are reflective of today’s political scenario. Jalib also wrote film songs but that was for earning livelihood. Arif called Habib Jalib one who followed the tradition of Mansoor Hallaj and whenever we speak of the folk tradition in poetry we would remember Habib Jalib. Tahira Jalib on the occasion spoke of the difficult times her mother and all of the family had to face whenever Jalib was imprisoned. However, she said her mother never allowed them to speak against their father or utter a word in opposition. It was later when we grew up we came to know his greatness, she said. At the end, Tahira Jalib recited some of her father’s representative poems. Sara Luni conducted the proceedings of the lecture.

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